This week marks the annual NATO ministerial meeting in Washington, when foreign ministers from the Alliance’s 29 members convene to discuss shared security threats. It also marks the 70th anniversary of NATO itself: a milestone that has been met with both celebration of NATO’s past and trepidation about its future.
One of the foreign ministers in town this week is Lithuania’s Linas Linkevičius, a seasoned diplomat who has long argued for a tougher line on Russia and for prioritizing the fight against disinformation. Charles Davidson, Publisher of The American Interest, and TAI Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Gedmin recently sat down with the Foreign Minister to discuss the state of the NATO alliance at a time of profound uncertainty. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Charles Davidson for TAI: I’ve known you for many years as a strong defender of Western values, and I remember an incident about four years ago when you were speaking at a think tank in Washington. In the Q&A at the end, a young man from the Russian Embassy stood up and disputed what was really happening in Ukraine. You spoke to him directly, first debunking his claims, and then saying that he must know in his heart that what he said was completely inaccurate. And he sat down with no rejoinder.
Linas Linkevičius: No one supported him, that’s right. Although there were other people from the Embassy present, I remember.
By Linas Linkevičius. How many wake-up calls do we really need to wake up?
History brims with examples of strong leadership. Contemporaries used to call the former Yugoslav leader, Josip Broz Tito, a “benevolent dictator,: as Yugoslavia under his rule appeared a quiet and peaceful place. Yet, the Balkans, immersed in an unprecedented bloodshed following the collapse of communist rule, until this day reminds us of the perils of taking the imagined for real.
Lithuania's Linas Linkevicius tells DW that Russia has been violating the terms of the INF nuclear arms treaty. He says action is necessary to force all parties to comply with the agreement.
Mediamax’s exclusive interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius
A year ago Armenia and EU signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). After joining the Eurasian Economic Union Armenia was unable to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, but can we say that CEPA is also ambitious document and able to offer a lot to Armenia?
Any document can be ambitious if backed by motivation, by efforts, and it is up to Armenia to make the new agreement efficient. It will never replace the Association and Free Trade Agreement, obviously, but how to preserve what was invested, what was done, is again up to Armenia. We in European Union try to adjust every position to make sure our partners feel comfortable, so we won’t expose them to something they don’t like.
Conventional wisdom has it that symbols in politics matter. History tends to repeat itself, especially if we fail to learn its lessons.
August is rife with tragic historical anniversaries which remind us of the lessons we have not learned: Ten years of the Russian aggression against Georgia; 50 years since the Soviet tanks crushed the peaceful protests in Prague; 79 years since the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that sealed the fate of millions of Europeans and turned the peaceful lands into “bloodlands,” to borrow Timothy Snyder’s phrase.
While the horrendous lessons of World War II and the urge to ensure “Never again” gave rise to the institutions which are at the core of the our world today, such as the North Atlantic Alliance, or NATO, (and the European Union), the more recent events demonstrate we are still failing to hold the perpetrators to account.
The U.S. continues grappling with the effects of the Russian government’s meddling before, during and after the 2016 presidential election. The Kremlin’s main goal of creating a climate of distrust and chaos was largely successful. And in the process, U.S. officials, experts and average citizens are pointing fingers — blaming each other for allowing it to happen. Lithuania, which has had a long and difficult history in Russia’s shadow and has been victimized by Russia’s “alternative” views of truth for many years, has some advice for U.S. officials. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius visited Washington on May 16 to meet with U.S. officials and counseled against trying to compromise with Russia because, he said, that would be a sign of weakness to the Kremlin.
As soccer fans across the globe gear up for the World Cup’s opening next month, Lithuania’s foreign minister still thinks holding the event in Russia is a “stupid idea.”
“Many stupid ideas are happening ... for instance, another stupid idea is holding football cup final in Russia,” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told BuzzFeed News during an interview last week. “It’s totally stupid because they will make big fuss.”